$1,185,000 :: Garcia v. County of Riverside

SETTLEMENT : Plaintiffs’ vehicle struck pothole and lost control

On April 29, 1993, Garcia, a 25-year-old sales clerk and mother, was driving southbound on Warren Road with her two children, ages 2 and 5, when she encountered devastating road conditions. Riverside County’s Warren Road was marred with potholes, several of which were later measured to be several feet wide and four inches deep. Garcia lost control when her vehicle struck one of these massive potholes, causing the vehicle along with its occupants to careen into the opposing lane of traffic where it struck another pothole before colliding into the limb of an overhanging pepper tree.

Garcia was wearing a seat belt and her 2-year-old, Andrew Garcia, was restrained in a car seat, however, her older son, the 5-year-old, Danny Garcia Jr., was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. When the vehicle crashed into the limb of the pepper tree, that limb was thrusted through the windshield where it struck Danny and caused an open head injury. The Garcias were trapped inside the vehicle for 15 to 20 minutes before emergency personnel were able to rescue them via the Jaws of Life.

Tragically, Danny ultimately did not survive the accident and 2-year-old Andrew suffered significant brain damage. Driver and mother Garcia suffered minor orthopedic injuries in addition to the severe emotional distress of losing her son. Their medical costs totaled $42,500.

Garcia hired Richard B. Koskoff of the Law Offices of Booth & Koskoff to represent her and her family in a lawsuit against the county of Riverside. The Plaintiffs argued that the pothole-marred roadway was a prime example of dangerous roadways and the poor condition caused Garcia to lose control of her vehicle.

While the Defense used road tests to contest this position, arguing that the roadway was not in a dangerous condition and the pothole could not have caused the vehicle nor the driver to so lose control, they ultimately agreed to settle with the Plaintiffs.

On April 2, 1999, the case settled out of court with the County of Riverside agreeing to pay a total of $1,185,000. Of this amount, $750,000 went to the mother and $430,00 to the younger son Andrew.

Article [PDF]